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Am I actually any safer logging off?

by meisinscotland / March 19, 2007 10:30 AM PDT

Hi all, just a quick post before I go to bed Silly

I leave me my machine on all night. Dont as why, I just do. But what I do, is I log off to the users screen. I know that it "closes" network connections and defaults to workstation settings (which I have actually tweaked a bit in TweakUI Silly ) but does that actually make a fundamental difference as to whether I would get "hacked" or not?

I am on a LAN on Student Residences and I use AVG Free, SpywareBlaster, AdAware, and the Windows XP Firewall. I believe it to be a fairly good security setup and even if I do say so myself; I just dont get viruses and such because I am sensible Silly

Any advice? Just a curiosity ppl...


Callum (g'night)

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by jackson dougless / March 19, 2007 12:39 PM PDT

The thing to remember, is that the odds of you being the target for hacking are very, very, very slim. To be hacked, you'd have to seek out, and then piss off sufficiently, an actual hacker. Hacking is about someone trying to prove that they're better than others. That can either be by getting into some high profile site, like say IBM or Microsoft's website, or it can be a bit more personal, targeting a specific individual who represents some kind of challenge to their status.

Generally speaking however, if you have an active network connection, your system is potentially vulnerable to attack. That's just the reality of things. All you can do is try and limit the opportunities for this sort of thing. Since malware is by far the biggest threat these days, and growing, that is where the majority of your efforts should be spent. To that end, there are some simple things you can do to dramatically reduce your malware risk.

The biggest of these is not to use Internet Explorer. You should also avoid using Outlook/Outlook Express, and MS Office which is being increasingly targeted (and MS Word still has at least 3 known and unpatched exploits). Also on the list would be file sharing, or P2P, programs, and any kind of pirated software which includes no-cd cracks for games and key generators.

Internet Explorer is the primary target for malware authors. Not using it, or anything based on it, will render you immune to picking up the majority of malware out there. Outlook and Outlook Express are prone to being hit by email worms, and are very spammer friendly. Not by design, just as a result of many short sighted development decisions on the part of Microsoft. P2P networks are just riddled with malware and viruses, so best to just steer clear. And you never know when there might be a hidden payload in pirated software.

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Thx everyone!
by meisinscotland / March 19, 2007 5:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Some

Thx! I've used IE for a while though and still no probs but thx everyone anyway!

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Faulty logic
by jackson dougless / March 20, 2007 1:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Thx everyone!

That's like having a magic rock to keep all the lions out of the city, and then when someone points out that there are no lions anywhere near the city, saying, "See how well it works?"

Just because you haven't had a problem yet, in no way indicates that you will continue to have no problems. I could drive my car for a long time, never having any problems, so assume I never have to do any kind of maintenance on it. Of course, sooner or later my not changing the oil is going to cause some serious damage. I might also be running low on transmission fluid, which will eventually lead to even more serious damage.

If I were you, I'd be considering myself very lucky, and a fool to tempt fate any longer. You're probably already on borrowed time, or have already been hit by something and don't even know it. No one anti-malware program will catch everything. Even two can miss quite a bit. You often need up to around 6 different programs, just to try and contain and clean up the mess IE can create. Whereas Firefox or Opera don't need any, and contain features even IE7 is still lacking.

I can't, and won't, stop you if you want to remain among the ranks of the cannon fodder. The more people like you there are, the less people like me have to worry that our browser of choice might become a worthwhile target for malware authors. Just expect a complete lack of sympathy should you return with a tale of woe about some nasty bit of malware that hit your system.

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I understand your advice
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Faulty logic

and thank you for taking the time to fabricate your *ahem* lengthy posts. But let me have my say.

(1) I dont visit bad websites, and I have a blacklist to block ads such as tribalfusion and zwinkies before they can even appear.

(2) Pretty much the whole world (this ISNT an assumption, its the market share) uses Microsoft IE, and so do many of my friends and family. *looks around* - no problems here.

(3) I prefer the browser.

(4) If its so problem prone, then why does Firefox take longer for me to display webpages, is slower, and uses more RAM than IE7? Opera, is the only secondary browser thet I use and I may very occasionally use an old Netscape. I use Firefox on my portable drive at college, but thats it. I DONT LIKE IT.

(5) I'm not a fool, or cannon fodder. I'm a 16 year old student who likes to do other things than lose sleep over which browser I use, or even still, be forced into changing because one is "better" than the other.

(6) I wouldnt come to CNET for sympathy anyway because the general moderator-user attitude here is generally very cold anyway. I can maintain my computer system very well (thanks), run installations from circumstances that just shouldnt happen, and I would know if there was malware in my computer. Trust me.

(7) What mess? IE7 doesnt create that much of a mess. Temporary File and such I can take care of. Plain

But thx.

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by jackson dougless / March 20, 2007 4:52 AM PDT

1) That's a good start, but still far from a guarantee. I could be out riding my bike, perfectly within the laws, and still be killed by a drunk driver or someone who simply lost control of their car.

2) That's the same "magic rock" logic you were using before. It falls apart on even the most basic of scrutiny. Take a look around these forums, and you'll see them absolutely littered with people having malware issues directly related to IE. Ask the IT people at any large company around you, and they'll probably have a few tales to tell about malware related messes they've had to deal with.

3) That's your prerogative

4) This is a multi-part question.
4a) IE uses some "tricks" to achieve those faster load times. The biggest one, is that it has a special shorthand method of communication with Microsoft based web servers that gives it an unfair edge. It's rendering engine also makes a number of assumptions about layout, which is a HUGE headache for web developers, though the end user rarely has any clue.
4b) Since IE is bolted onto the operating system, it's true memory use cannot be determined. All you're measuring is the RAM use by a small front end program. The rest is masked as part of several other programs that are loaded with the operating system. Firefox also can seem to use unusually large amounts of RAM, because it caches copies of recent pages in RAM to speed up the Back/Forward process. IIRC, that can be disabled.
4c) Portable Firefox is NOT a good indicator of Firefox's performance. In order to function, Portable Firefox has a special loader program that acts as an intermediary. So on top of the otherwise lower access speeds of flash drives over internal hard drives, you have this extra translation layer to contend with. Not to mention not all flash drives were created equally. Some are MUCH better performers than others, so what's to say you don't have one that's near the bottom of the heap?
4d) If you like Opera better than Firefox, by all means use it. I'm not pushing either one. I happen to like Firefox, but if you like Opera better, what difference does it make to me? I'm just suggesting an "anything but IE" policy. Opera fits that description just as well as Firefox.

5) Ah yes, the arrogance of youth. I'm not too far removed from those days myself, and thinking that I knew everything. One thing I've learned in my few additional years on this earth, is that the more I learn, the more I understand just how little I know. I'm sure you're probably thinking I'm full of it, and don't know what I'm talking about, that you're different somehow... Just remember back to this day 5-6 years from now, and I bet you'll have a very different perspective.

6) I would add that most people who rely on Cnet for information are the blind being led by the blind. But you should get used to the cold nature of things. You're not always going to be surrounded by your friends and people who are going to be nice to you. Once you hit higher education, you'll be surrounded by people who seem quite insufferable, and they'll be thinking the same about you.

7) IE has a whole cottage industry around it, just to deal with the problems it creates. You seem like an above average intelligence sort of person, surely this should strike you as odd. Maybe even that there's something rotten in the state of Denmark. Just take a look at your own setup. You have a custom hosts file and at least 2 anti-malware programs. There's probably more you aren't even mentioning. And at the same time, you talk about how you prefer to enjoy using the computer, rather than worrying about a bunch of things. I don't see how you reconcile the two. You are making the conscious choice to use a program that requires you maintain at least 2 programs, maybe more, not to mention always be vigil for as yet unknown threats, and making the conscious choice NOT to use a program that would eliminate the need for those 2 programs. I cannot come up with a single logical way to reconcile what you say and what you do. I ran Gentoo Linux on my primary computer for over a year, so I get the whole control freak thing. I've been there, and done that on a whole different level from you. If you want to have to maintain 2 malware removers, that hosts file, and everything else, I don't particularly care. Just don't go trying to feed me some line about how you like to use the computer rather than maintain it.

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by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 7:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Answers

Dont crunch those gears now!
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Bla bla bla
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 7:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Answers

Wow you can talk A LOT.

Mind those gears! Or that pedestrian! LOOK! Its a cat in the road!
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Spoken like a true teenager
by jackson dougless / March 20, 2007 11:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Bla bla bla

Also spoken like someone who realizes they have absolutely no counter argument, so tries to drag the discussion into little more than insult tennis. It's called a reasoned argument. Something you will soon learn about if you're getting any sort of worthwhile education.

Obviously, in your 16 years on this planet, probably only about 10-12 of which you've had any cognitive abilities to speak of, you've learned absolutely everything there is worth knowing in life. You've obviously mastered the complex art of computer security. All those people who get graduate degrees in the subject should stop wasting their time, and just ask you what to do. Why, with your ability to instantly master anything, you'll have schools and business the world over lining up outside your door in a few years. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford... After all, the only reason you're not there now, is because you don't want to be the little squirt on campus.

I just hope I wasn't this insufferable at your age. If I was, my parents had the patients of saints not to smack me silly on a regular basis.

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by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 11:49 AM PDT

Whatch you dont blow that gasket there mate.. Silly

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insufferable? woop woop!
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 11:54 AM PDT

Everyone loves me!

I am dead popular with all my peers (especially the guys 8-) and I get on just great!

Do you have any friends? WHOA Mind that pothole sir!

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by jackson dougless / March 21, 2007 12:48 AM PDT

I see you still have no response to what I said, so knowing better than to try and deal with a walking hormone bomb... One of us has to be the mature one, and I guess I'm "it" by process of elimination... You should make a video of yourself, and watch it 5-6 years from now. I only wish I could be there to see the look of horror on your face, but I'll just have to soldier on somehow.

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I will
by meisinscotland / March 21, 2007 1:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Yep

Hormone Bomb? ^o)

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A few things I spotted...
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 3:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Some

Having read, re-read, and re-read again, your post, I came across a few things. "Hackers" in this sense are best referred to as "crackers" - hence I put the word hackes in " back there.

Also, how can I use Internet Explorer, if I am logged off?!?!

You seemed to steer off the rails and go into a discussion basically telling me what to do with my computer and -once again- my browsing habits.

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(NT) Hardwired Router w/ Built-in Firewall Helps Lots!
by tobeach / March 19, 2007 3:42 PM PDT
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Abit more
by Willy / March 20, 2007 3:05 AM PDT

What you've done is good so far but not complete. I strongly suggest you use something other than MS own firewall as that's as basic as it gets. Use ZoneAlarm's own firewall and its free too and does a far better job. Again, you have basic protection and that's a start. I do find using commercial pgms. offer a wider and deeper or more aggressive approach to protect its users and the cost of much is little when compared to correcting problems. PLus, the incentive to provide the latest protection from day-to-day as threats are found. Many freeware or shareware pgms. are lagging in this time frame, though they do provide it but not as quickly. So far, you're lucky and/or been protected with what you got. But, you're in the middle of the type of situation you can be more readily attacked being in a "institutional" setting regardless of protection. It only takes one bad apple to get out of hand.

tada -----Willy Happy

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by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 3:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Abit more

ZA has done nothin but ever give me trouble.

Did I mention that I pinged my firewall and got 0% back? it works for me. But thx.

What I was really looking to find out was (a bit like you said) is it safer to log off than to be logged in and wide open on the net? cos when you logof it kinda resets to workstation settings and I am sure I read somewhere it shuts down all network connections..

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It's time for me to ask....
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / March 20, 2007 8:04 AM PDT

Time for me to ask questions. I know you don't think too much of Moderators in these forums, but there you go, you post messages here and we read them.

1] Your profile says your System is Windows 2000, SP4. Why are you posting in the Windows XP forum? You mention the Windows XP firewall. So have you now changed to Windows XP?

2] In your post, ("Am I actually any safer logging off?"), you say, "I leave me my machine on all night. Dont ask why". I'm asking.

3] You said, "I know that it "closes" network connections and defaults to workstation settings (which I have actually tweaked a bit in TweakUI)". You say that about tweaking as if it is significant. If it is, what tweaks?

4] What do you mean by, "Defaults to workstation settings"?

5] If you are satisfied that logging off closes all network connections, why would you not feel safe?

6] You mention you are on a student LAN. If all network connections are closed, why mention this?

You may wonder why I am so inquisitive. Your very first description caught my curiosity. Why would someone say they leave their computer on all night, then say "don't ask why"?

You are concerned about open network connections. Is your computer being accessed on the student LAN all through the night? If so, why?

Call it my suspicious nature.


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I'll try
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 10:02 PM PDT

1) I updated my system and didnt yet update my profile.

2) I just do.

3) I used TweakUI to carry over my cursor and desktop colour setting over into the logon desktop. That was it.

4) It no longer seems to behave like a laptop in terms of power settings but instead acts universally like desktop PCs when logged off. I have noticed this with laptops all over. Perhaps "Workstation Settings" was not the best term.

5) I do feel safe, I was just wondering whether because the LAN cable is plugged in the machine is still accessible in any way.

6) Just wondering.

As far as I know it is not being accessed by the LAN. I have the ICN firewall enabled and I pinged it from college and got 0% of the packets back.

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Logging out does not necessarily disable network connections
by linkit / March 20, 2007 11:45 PM PDT
In reply to: I'll try

For instance, I have an XP Pro desktop and an XP Pro laptop connected to a router forming my LAN. The desktop has a shared printer attached to it. While logged out of all accounts on the desktop, I still can send print jobs to the shared printer from the laptop.

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Hey Hey
by meisinscotland / March 20, 2007 10:05 PM PDT

I dont mind y'all moderators except one dude, and if you think really hard you can probably figure out who he is. He posts smart remarks, indirect insults (he said its a pity that my comments cant be DIGGed -- I think thats rather offensive), rarely helps anyone, and often riddles what he says.

So no, the mods dont bother me except this one guy who I personally, think should have his mod status taken away, but hey, thats bad management for you.

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There's a time for everything
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / March 21, 2007 3:46 AM PDT

Even a time to stop.

This discussion's time to stop has arrived. Questions have been asked, and they have been answered. So continuing on in this discussion serves no useful purpose.

It's locked.


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